Diabetes is a common disease affecting more than 500 million adults around the world. In fact, 3 in 4 adults with diabetes in low and middle-income countries. In Malaysia alone, approximately 18 percent of adults have diabetes which makes up 1 in 5 adults. Diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting the way of the body to convert food into energy. It is marked by high levels of blood sugar. Insulin is the most common medicine used to control diabetes but is Glucophage 500 mg an insulin?
Glucophage is not an insulin. As a matter of fact, Glucophage contains metformin as its active ingredient. Metformin belongs to a drug type known as biguanide. Metformin works by lowering the amount of sugar production produced by the liver. It also improves insulin sensitivity which means it helps the cells in the body to be sensitive to insulin and increase sugar absorption in the intestines.
Insulin is a hormone that plays a vital role in maintaining the blood sugar level. Insulin exists in a human body and helps the cells to bind with sugar from food. This enables the cell metabolism to function properly. In people with diabetes, insulin resistance is an issue. Thus, insulin injection is given to help improve the resistance and contribute to good blood sugar control.
It is understandable that Glucophage may be confused with insulin as people usually associate insulin medicine with diabetes but as mentioned before, Glucophage doesn’t belong to the insulin drug type. One thing for sure, insulin and Glucophage help to treat patients with diabetes. Patients with diabetes may receive many kinds of antidiabetic medication, either one or more medicines in combination. This depends on the doctor’s evaluation towards the patient’s health level or problems and severity of the diabetes itself. Thus, it is best for patients to ask their healthcare provider if the patient is unsure or having doubt when given with antidiabetic medicine.
Glucophage is usually prescribed for patients with diabetes and is overweight or obese. This is because it is able to help patients lose weight while controlling their blood sugar. Studies show that 29% of people lost 5% or more of their initial body weight and 8% lost around 10% of their initial body weight. It is worth noting that the 29% of people that do lose some weight, do not necessarily rely on the Glucophage medicine alone as they also made changes in their lifestyle which includes a good healthy diet and exercise. Hence, metformin such as in Glucophage should not be used as a fat burner or a weight loss pill because it is not approved by the US FDA (United States Food and Drugs Administration).
Glucophage sometimes may be combined with other kinds of anti-diabetic drugs especially in patients that fail to control their blood sugar level with only one medication. In general, Glucophage is taken 2 to 3 times a day with meals or right after meals. Patients should drink plenty of clear fluid when taking this medication unless instructed otherwise by their healthcare provider. Patients are advised to avoid eating food heavy in sugar such as candy, soda or simple carbohydrate food such as chips or crackers. Such food will not only cause a spike of blood sugar but may affect the metformin to work properly in the body. The latter is a person may be needing a higher dose of the medicine or given other medication to help control the blood sugar.
Medicine prescribed by doctors do provide benefits but that does not mean there is not any possible side effects. Common side effects include fatigue, light-headedness, low blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia), vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, and upset stomach. Should these side effects get worse, patients need to let their healthcare provider know. Serious side effects such as lactic acidosis marked by unusual muscle pain, sudden feeling of cold, severe stomach pain or breathing difficulty are rare but if it occurs, patients need to get urgent medical care although symptoms may seem harmless. Since patients with diabetes that take anti-diabetic medication have a risk for hypoglycemia, especially those taking more than one type of medicine or their poor lifestyle of not eating enough food or after heavy physical activities, patients need to know what to do if they experience it. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include sweating, hunger, dizziness, shaking, fast heartbeat or tingling of hands or feet. If a person experiences any of the hypoglycemia symptoms, the patient should immediately drink or eat sugary food or drinks such as candy or fruit juice. They should also let their doctor knows about their hypoglycaemia event.
In essence, Glucophage is not an insulin. It is an antidiabetic medication used to help treat patients with diabetes. Patients should take this medicine regularly and as instructed by their doctor. It is worth noting that there is no medicine that can treat diabetes and medicine available aims to control their blood sugar to be on the optimal level. It is important to treat diabetes as the complications can cause great disability or even death. Getting regular health screening is beneficial to improve metabolic disease such as diabetes.
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